5 Mantras to help you survive fashion school / by Nikki Dee

I wrote this post when I was a slightly cranky fashion school senior. Let me be straight, actually - I dropped out of the fashion program and switched my major to "Integrated Design (Fashion and Costume)". The difference was that I had more control over the types of classes I was taking, and my peers and professors cared less about status and department stores, and more about sustainability and shifting economies.
So I just want to add a few things to this list: if you are a fashion student, take a step back every once in a while. Hang out with people outside of art school. Maybe get a job outside of retail/the design world. Think about different ways to express yourself, different kinds of economies, and different ways to make things. Think about whether or not things really need to be made at all. Learn all you can. Breathe. Make friends. And get some sleep.

Never-ending critiques. Coffee-fetching, fabric-hauling, getting screamed at by runway stylists because THAT’S-NOT-HOW-YOU-BUTTON-THAT-YOU-IDIOT internships. Late nights in the sewing studio. “Why do all my croquis look like drag queens?” People looking you up and down, taking in your finals-week appearance and saying, “Really? You’re a fashion student?”

Trust me when I say that I’ve been through it all. When it comes to being a fashion student, most of the time it’s not as glamorous as it seems. I feel you. Here are 5 mantras to repeat to yourself in times of stress, when you think to yourself, why didn’t I go into accounting, like my parents wanted?! I promise that these thoughts will help you get through those tough fashion school moments in good spirits – and remember why you wanted to work in fashion in the first place.

1. Whatever the problem or rush is: It’s not a real emergency. You are not a surgeon, or a pilot, or a firefighter. 

Repeat after me: It’s only fashion.

2. Keep it Simple. There will come a day when you are tearing apart your closet or design. What do I wear to this interview? How many different pattern pieces does this dress really need?! Stop. Breathe. And keep it simple. I promise it will look good.

Repeat after me: Keep it simple.

3. Remember to be kind to your professors and your fellow classmates. Not only will you make some amazing friends, but you are also networking with potential collaborators and people who can turn you on to great projects and jobs in the future. Fashion is a small industry and everyone knows each other.

Repeat after me: We’re all in this together.

4. Fashion school is practice for your career, but it’s not imaginary land. You are in the real world now, and should take advantage of every opportunity offered. Take every chance to relax, because art and design school is really crazy. But also work hard on every project and at every internship. It all goes into whatever you are working towards!

Repeat after me: Everything is an opportunity.

5. You have great taste. That’s how you got into fashion school in the first place. If you are butting heads with a professor, then take their criticisms into consideration, but stay true to yourself and your vision. Your strong visual voice is what makes you a great designer.

Repeat after me: I am visionary. I am not confused.

You’re gonna be great!